Did you know that someone gets injured on the job every seven seconds? If you’re in construction, manufacturing or another hands-on occupation, you may have gotten injured on the job before or seen colleagues become victims of onsite accidents.
In many cases, these injuries include minor scrapes, bruises and sore muscles that heal quickly and don’t keep you off your feet. But in other cases, more severe injuries can land you in the emergency room and with a painkiller prescription to manage the discomfort you’re feeling. Unfortunately, this perfect storm of chronic pain from a job injury and painkillers can lead to opioid abuse and addiction.
How Common are Workplace Injuries?
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 2.8 million nonfatal injuries reported in 2018 by private industry employers. Industries like agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing were among the trades reporting the most nonfatal injuries and illnesses for that year.
And sadly, in some cases, workplace injuries can be fatal. In 2018, there were 5,250 fatal workplace injuries across the United States. If we look at Colorado, specifically, there were 72 fatal injuries and 40 percent of those came from natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations.
How Do Workplace Injuries Lead to Opioid Addiction?
According to a 2019 occupational injury study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, workplace injuries increase an individual’s chances of dying from a drug overdose or suicide.
A key reason for this is the way prescription painkillers have been prescribed in workers’ compensation claims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 44 percent of workers’ compensation claims in 2016 had at least one prescription for opioids. And 15 percent of those claims showed that the date of injury was 6 or more years prior, suggesting that the people suffering from workplace injuries were taking opioids long-term to manage pain.
Of course, these prescriptions weren’t meant to get workers addicted. However, this easy access through workers’ compensation has made it more likely that people will use opioids long-term, leading to addiction.
It’s worth remembering that not every workplace injury triggers acute or chronic pain and opioid abuse. However, it’s important to consider that workplace accidents can leave many people unable to work as they recover, leading to financial strain and additional stress.
Following safety tips and encouraging your employer to adopt workplace injury prevention protocols can lower your chances of getting injured, losing your ability to work and developing an opioid addiction.
Safety Tips for Work to Prevent Injuries on the Job
There’s no way to ensure that you’ll never suffer an injury on the job. But the following safety tips can help decrease your chances of getting into an accident:
- Always Wear Safety Equipment. This may seem like a no-brainer, but this one is easy to ignore when you’ve been working at the same job for years and you know what you’re doing. But accidents can still happen, and the right equipment can protect you.
- Stay Alert. There’s a lot of moving parts on a construction site or in a manufacturing plant. Objects can fall, machinery may malfunction, and other workers might lose control of what they’re doing. All these hazards can lead to accidents, so it’s best to pay attention to your surroundings.
- Clean Up Spills. See a spill on the floor or in the stairway? Clean it up immediately to help avoid slips and falls – two of the major causes of nonfatal workplace injuries.
- Be Careful Around Machinery. Operating machines is dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. And even if you do, there’s always a higher chance of injury when working with a powerful machine. Keep your focus, operate the machine properly and stay away from it if you aren’t fully comfortable using it.
- Use Correct Posture for Lifting Objects. Throwing out your back is easier than you’d like it to be. If you spend a lot of your days lifting heavy objects, make sure you use proper form to minimize your chance of injuries and chronic back pain.
- Report Hazardous Work Conditions. Is there a broken machine? Is there something that could harm you or your colleagues? Tell your supervisors immediately, as they are legally obligated to keep their employees safe.
If safety protocols aren’t known around your work environment, talk with your employer about creating workplace safety guidelines. The more your employer is able to prevent workplace injuries, the safer, healthier and more productive you and your colleagues will be.
Recovery is Possible at The Raleigh House
Sometimes, workplace injuries can’t be anticipated or avoided. If you’re struggling with opioid addiction that started as a way to manage pain from a workplace injury, The Raleigh House can help. We have over 10 years of experience treating prescription painkiller and heroin addictions through our evidence-based, holistic gold standard continuum of care.
Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs, get your questions answered and find out how you can get started.